Celebrating Israel’s Century-Long Special Relationship with Australia

Oct. 31 2017

Today is the centenary of the battle of Beersheba, in which the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, serving under Britain’s General Edmund Allenby, took the city from Ottoman forces. Isi Leibler describes the battle, which he sees as the beginning of the consistently warm relations between Canberra and Jerusalem:

The battle of Beersheba . . . represented Australia’s first outstanding achievement as a fighting force, predating its [famed] Western-front victories of 1918. With the disaster at Gallipoli [two years earlier], where over 8,000 Australians needlessly lost their lives, many initially predicted that this attempt represented yet another example of military incompetence and cynical willingness to sacrifice soldiers. Beersheba was heavily fortified, and the battle was a last-ditch effort to defeat the Ottoman empire in the region.

Late on the afternoon of October 31, following an order by their commander, Sir Harry Chauvel, 800 Australian light horsemen galloped over two kilometers at top speed, directly into machine-gun fire, before dismounting and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. They overcame the Turkish defenders in less than an hour. Thirty Australian horsemen were killed and 36 wounded. Over 500 Turks were killed and 1,500 surrendered. It was a turning point in Allenby’s struggle to defeat the Ottomans in Palestine. . . .

Australia has constantly maintained a positive bipartisan relationship with Israel. . . . The Jewish community can claim much of the credit for this. Australian community leaders have not hesitated to confront their government on the rare occasions they considered it was applying double standards against Israel. The all-encompassing pro-Israel orientation of the Jewish community is undoubtedly a major factor contributing to the pro-Israel orientation of the mainstream political parties.

However, dark clouds are emanating from sectors of the Australian Labor party, whose former foreign minister Bob Carr has become a spokesman for extremist Arab causes. . . .

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Australia, Edmund Allenby, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, World War I

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

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Read more at Jager File

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics